February 6, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Isaiah 29-33
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Context: The people of Judah did not have to wait long to see Isaiah's prophecy in chapter 29 come true. Assyria was attacking and it looked as if they would win, however, God protected the people of Judah and struck down 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night (Isaiah 37:36). The people will react to God in one of two ways: deny Him and make their own secret plans (which cannot be kept from the Lord), or accept the Lord's help and rejoice in Him. The next four chapters contain three “woe” oracles (30, 31, and 33). Each begins with a formal complaint (woe) and then goes on to offer hope for the future when God will transform the world and implement His plans. Hezekiah, who was king at the time, was considering an alliance with Egypt. As Isaiah had said previously, Judah's only hope was to trust in the Lord, not the power of man. It is unclear who, or what event, is being referenced in chapter 33. The prophecy could refer to either the Assyrian invasion in 701 BC or the destruction by Babylon in 586 BC. This chapter demonstrates the power of the Lord to overthrow his enemies
World History: Around 701 BC, Assyria attacked Jerusalem. Assyria had already defeated in the northern kingdom and enslaved the Israelites who lived there. Assyria laid siege to Jerusalem, who was ruled by Hezekiah, a good king who instituted religious change, including the destruction of idols. In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, tearing down the walls, killing military, religious, and political leaders, and carted off most of the Israelites as slaves.